Random Indie Music Tournament – Round 2 Preview

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Best Coast, NXNE, June 17, 2010, The Great Hall

So this random dude posted a tournament bracket on instagram and well let’s just say it sounds like a good idea to evaluate it and see who should win this! Yes, I’m that bored. I have no idea how he seeded Belle and Sebastian against The Strokes or Bloc Party vs Arcade Fire, but whatever – he did something and I appreciated that. However, it now looks like Round 2 is on the horizon, so let’s takes a look at the matchups because I have already cleaned my apartment twice, repotted my plants and done my taxes.

You can vote here

Yeah Yeah Yeahs vs Arcade Fire

This is a HUGE matchup, I think this is happening too early, but you know – Houston vs Golden State also happened in round 2 so life’s not fair. Both bands had an abundance of success in the 2000s, but I feel that a lot of people’s feelings for Arcade Fire have waned since they seemed a bit excessive with their last release. This feels weird to me because the collective public just decided to completely forget Yeah Yeah Yeah’s last album. Can you name one song off Mosquito?

Ultimately this matchup is about whether you prefer Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ outrageous list of amazing singles – “Maps”, “Y-Control”, “Date with the Night”, “Cheated Hearts”, “Zero” and “Heads Will Roll” or Arcade Fire’s amazing output for their first four albums. I mean, I still remember exactly where I was when I heard Funeral for the first time.

Both bands have amazing live sets and managed to break into the mainstream, with Arcade Fire surprisingly winning the Grammys a few years back and Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Glee thing. It’s a toss-up but I feel people generally love Karen-O more then anyone on Arcade Fire.

The White Stripes vs The National

The White Stripes’ candle didn’t burn very long, but certainly burned the brightest. With their stripped down rock and roll, unique aesthetics and curious back story, they were one of the front runners that help kicked off the early 2000s indie rock movement (whatever you want to call it). “Seven Nation Army” may have the most famous riff of the past 30 years and Jack White is among today’s most well known musicians. However, they might be a band where the star is more well known then their music these days (aside from that one song)

The National are the complete opposite. Here’s a low key band that has steadily grown over the past twenty years to become festival headliners. They’ve done it by releasing solid album after solid album (until the last one) and frankly, you wouldn’t even know if you were standing besides Matt Berninger at a Walmart, unless he had an open bottle of wine in his hand.

In reality, I can’t name fifteen songs from either band, but I listen to the National much more then the White Stripes these days, so they’ve got my vote.

Interpol vs The Shins

Interpol alienate a lot of people, who mock their aesthetic in a way that they don’t mock other band’s aesthetics from that time period. Of course, if you read Meet Me in the Bathroom, then you would know they were a bit nuts.

Still, their self titled album was absolutely unique and amazing. Their sophomore effort Antics also gave us two of their best singles – “Slow Hands” and “Evil”, which gave me one of my favorite things to scream into a microphone during karaoke: “ROSEMARY!!! – Heaven restores you in life”

Interpol’s “Specialist” was also part of a pivotal moment in The OC Season 1, which also featured Nada Surf’s incredible cover of OMD’s “If You Leave.” Clearly, a top 10 music-TV episode of all time.

Anyways, they are matched up against The Shins who should have never made it past round one or been in this tournament.


Arctic Monkeys vs Beirut/Yo La Tengo (doesn’t matter)

It’s amazing that the incredible, incredible hype that came with Arctic Monkeys from the UK media machine did not crush the band on arrival.

Arctic Monkeys came into my life via either music forum or blogs. At the time, I was obsessed with The Libertines and really, it was a weird period where you were just getting all these bootlegs and demos of songs for some reason. Probably because I was young and didn’t have to manage 35 people and attend seven straight meetings in a row. Anyway, when the Libertines self destructed, the Arctic Monkeys were there to take over and boy, did they ever. I still remember the hype at Lee’s Palace for their first ever North America show and they didn’t even fuckin’ sing “Mardy Bum,” their biggest song at the time. This was a band that knew what they wanted, and they actually became quite popular. I think they actually just skipped past the indie rock crowd into just plain rock.

Either way, they definitely will be advancing to the next round.

The Strokes vs Wilco

The leather vs the jean jacket.

People easily dismiss the Strokes these days, but don’t tell me they don’t know the lyrics to all the songs off Is This It?. You can’t get a greater contrast in style then this one.

Franz Ferdinand vs Spoon

This one should be closer then you think – Franz Ferdinand will be forever beloved for their debut album and what might be one of the greatest debut singles of all time. You STILL lose your shit to “Take Me Out” when it hits the dance floor. I think most people expected them to somehow move on and expand their sound drastically or something but when they released more albums that were equally danceable pop, they were disappointed. Yet, if you listen to their latter work, it’s still good.

Someone once described Spoon’s music as “I don’t know how to put it, but when you hear a song from Spoon – you know it’s Spoon because they sound like everyone but no one sounds like them” They are the embodiment of being consistently solid. They are like Jerk King, one of my favorite places to eat, it’s not the best place to eat, but when you are eating it – you are happy. I dunno if that makes sense.

M83 vs LCD Soundsystem

M83 has had a strange career – in the early 2000s they were one of those bands everyone loved to introduce other people to. “Oh have you heard M83? They are this cool new French electronic band, you should check them out. They are gonna be big I think” and then all of a sudden, “Midnight City” dropped and they became huge that year. And then everyone forgot about them. Very strange. Remember how great French Electronic music was from 2007-2010? I think it inspired the movie Drive. That dude was like, “I fucking love this moody French electronic music, so good to drive to in the middle of the night. Let’s make movie about that and also have someone stomp a guy to death in an elevator.”

Anyways, LCD Soundsystem is the best. Their concerts are cathartic and if you haven’t been to a LCD Soundsystem show with your arms around all your friends singing and dancing to “ALL MY FRIENDS” then what were you doing during the past twenty years?

The Flaming Lips vs TV on the Radio

Because of the stories that have plagued the Flaming Lips in recent times, people forget just how absolutely bonkers and amazing seeing the Flaming Lips for the first really is. Let’s be real, your first Flaming Lips show (if they are still together) will be one of your most memorable shows ever – the hamster ball thing, the confetti, the dancing mascots, the way the show is put together so that everyone builds up to “Do You Realize?” Good memories.

TV on the Radio will be forever one of those super cool bands from that time period that people know about, but don’t know about. My only lasting memory of TV on the Radio was during SXSW when they were staying in the same hotel as me, and I got on the same elevator with them but half of them were wearing animal onesies for some reason. Still, Return to Cookie Mountain was a great album, not sure it measures up to an appearance on Beverly Hills 90210 though.

Okay, go vote.


Favorite Food Things 2019 – Kemuri Tatsu-ya, Uchi, Jerk King, etc

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2019 was a good year for eating. Like Richard Gere once said – “Food is the only beautiful thing that truly nourishes”

Here are my favorite food things in 2019

Austin Foods – Kemuri Tatsu-Ya / Uchi
This year I went to the BBQ mecca that is Franklin’s BBQ, but frankly – Kemuri Tatsu-Ya is my favorite place in Austin. The combination of using mixing Japanese ingredients and technique with Texas BBQ and technique is just something so purely unique and out of this world you just have to shake your head. The BBQ smoked fish collar and the ramen tsukemen where the dipping broth is made from some concentrated brisket bbq stock are just so good.

Uchi was another great experience – Omakase Japanese dinner that is traditional in service sense but also not that traditional in that food plays around with some of the ingredients that are clearly influenced by people living in a south Texas city that is close to the Mexican border. A great meal.

Oyster + Foie Gras + Uni, Morimoto, Las Vegas
It doesn’t take a genius to put three things super rich and high on umami together on a single plate – or does it? I have never thought about combining these three things before and yet, here we are, in Las Vegas and I’m eating this delicous thing (picture at top) that I don’t even know how to process mentally.

Peking Duck
Just leaving this here, because I enjoy eating Peking Duck always.

Kudu, Crocodile, Wildebeest, Blesbock, Uganda
Not often you get to eat all the animals featured in a Planet Earth episode, but for me this dinner was great for several reasons.

1. This was our only real stop in a city on my Africa Safari tour, and previously we had been eating a lot of lodge food, or make shift dinners.

2. It was nearing the end of our adventure so me and my tour mates decided to splurge (I guess you can call it that) and book the best restaurant in Kampala

3. The food was delicious

4. There were no bugs despite sitting outside because there war bats the size of little cats flying everywhere eating them all.

So overall, you have great food with great memories, and that’s the formula for success

Jerk King (Anything, anytime), Toronto
Jerk King is amazing, you can literally get two meals for like 12 bucks because they give you so much food. I love Jerk King, and I go there frequently. Mostly after midnight.

The Free bread at Aloette, Toronto
I didn’t even know the tasty bread at Aloette was free until after my second visit. I love that bread. Go eat it.

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Everything – De Librije
Located in a tiny town just outside Amsterdam, De Librije was a gastronomic experience that I quite enjoyed. The presentation was amazing, and each dish was so unique and great.

Congee Queen – Congee Queen is like the life line for Chinese people living in Toronto. It’s consistently good and very cheap.

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Oyster, Nerua Guggenheim – Bilbao
This oyster was the best oyster I’ve ever had. It was not even raw, slightly cooked but just tasted amazing.

I could go on and on, but those were some of my favorites! What were yours

Favourite Concerts of 2019

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The Comet is Coming

Hard to believe a decade has come to an end, I thought about encapsulating my decade in shows and coming up with a best of, but that’s far too much work and frankly, only I’d care about that shit. So here is some shit that probably only I care about anyways but I guess that’s the point of the blog anyways.

I didn’t see a lot of shows this year, this thing called “work” really got in my way in terms of sucking all the energy out of me during the day, leaving me little reserve to go out at night. Like those famous philosophers Blink 182 used to say, “I guess this is growing up”

Still, I saw some shows, so here are my favorites from what i say

Otokobe Beaver, SXSW
What can I say that I haven’t already said in my review of their show?. Nine months later, the memory of utter chaos and explosive energy that was the show still remains fresh in my mind. Considering I don’t even remember what I ate for lunch three days ago, that’s quite the accomplishment. Luckily for me, they are playing Austin next year, so I can go see them again.

The Comet is Coming, SXSW (x2), Mod Club, Toronto
The only band I saw three times this year, The Comet is Coming makes me wonder if I’m slowly descending into a more jazzy area of my life. They aren’t really jazz, but I don’t know what they are. I just know they are fucking awesome. Here is my take on their show from Austin.

The Chromatics, Danforth Music Hall, Toronto
If you were to put a gun to my head and ask me for a bucket list of still active bands I’d like to see that I’ve never seen before, the Chromatics would be at the top of my list. You could get that list without putting a gun to my head as well. I’ve been following this band for a bout a decade now, as around ten years ago, I was really obsessive about the VALERIE / French electronic music and somehow Chromatics got lumped into that group. The band has been shy about touring but continue to sometimes put out music. Their show here was great, it was amazing hearing songs I really loved live, and as you can imagine, the show’s aesthetics / light show was meticulously crafted. Considering the build up, not disappointing at all.

The Strokes, Budweiser Stage, Toronto
People like to shit on the Strokes these days, but they can’t deny that the first two albums they released were magical. Their show was a great dive into those nostalgic times in university when I was trying to tell all my friends about them and how much cooler they were then those shitty Edgefest Canadian Raine Maida-esque bands they liked. In other news, the Strokes album is almost twenty years old. So by that measure, I’m getting old.

Chai, SXSW
Chai is the Baby Yoda of the music world. Impossibly cute, but underneath it, some crazy powers. Their show was enjoyable and better yet, makes you happy.

How was your 2020?

Burger Review: Bymark Burger, Bymark

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bymark burger

Hello, it’s been awhile since we last reviewed burgers here on the site.

As a reminder, this is a series based on a top 10 list of burgers published in Toronto Life.

However, this burger isn’t on the list. To be completely honest, I forgot about this list – I just thought I was really into burgers a few years ago.

This is the Bymark Burger and at $40, it may be one of the most, if not the most expensive burger in the city. It is certainly the most expensive burger I’ve ever had. The thing I’ve learned in life i that when life gives you free work dinners, you definitely order the most expensive burger you’ll probably ever order.

The Burger
– 8OZ BYMARK BURGER, brie de meaux, shaved truffle, grilled porcini mushroom

From my shitty internet research, it appears that the beef is from grass-fed strip loin. The cheese is obviously a fancier version of brie and anything with truffle is obviously next level.

The Verdict
Presentation wise, it was super pretty.

However, I was not impressed. At a 40 dollar price range, this burger came with sky high expectations and it definitely did not meet them. The burger was a decent size and bun was pleasant. However, the patty seemed like it could be salted a bit better and I think could have used a bit more fat.

In terms of togetherness, truffle and brie both have very strong tastes on their own and combined, it was unique but I would say occasionally overwhelming in that sometimes when I had a bite, I could taste the truffle, sometimes the cheese, sometimes the mushroom. It didn’t all come together. As a result, it was an unbalanced eating experience.

The burger came with a choice of greens / fries / onion rings. OBVIOUSLY I picked onion rings. Only a monster would choose fries over onion rings.

The onion rings were delicious in all their greasy glory. I wanted more, but it’s a fancy place so I guess four onion rings is enough.

The burger had a good weight to it, but the sauce quickly soaked through to the point where I had to switch to a fork and knife halfway through so that my hands didn’t become super greasy. I personally like eating burgers with my hands so this was disappointing.

If this was a 20 dollar burger, I probably would have been more generous in my review, but as a 40 dollar burger it didn’t meet my standards.

Burger Scale

Amarillo Burger, Casino El Camino – 10$ USD
The Burger, Wickson Social – 19$
Bombolone Burger, Bar Buca – 15$
Burger, Rasa – 17$
Prime Beef Double Cheeseburger, Museum Tavern – 19$
Skyline Burger, Skyline Diner – 14$
Brisket Cheese Burger, Carbon Bar – 22$
Bymark Burger, Bymark – 40$
Game Burger, Antler – 18$
Vegan Mac Daddy, Doomies – 16$